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Queenstown/Southern lakes 2019

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
After a record warm autumn we now have the first winter snow on the mountains. This is just in time as the first lifts are due to open in the next two weeks and with cold showery weather forecast for the rest of the week it is looking good. Temperatures should be good for snow making to enhance the natural falls.

Over the summer there have been a couple of developments both good and bad for us so a quick run down on the local ski areas.

Treble Cone; nothing new that I know of.

Cardrona; a new chair lift installed below the Captains Basin area, bad news is that it's not opening due to the discovery of native lizards in the area and they have to wait until an assessment of the environmental consequences.

Coronet Peak; the Coronet Express four seat chair has been replaced by a new six seat Leitner Telemix chair/gondola. This will increase capacity and the gondolas are mainly for the summer mountain biking and sightseeing business.

The Remarkables; plans to replace the old slow Sugar Bowl chair with a high speed six seat chair put on hold until next summer due to delays in consent process.

That is just a little catch-up for you all before the lifts start spinning.
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I'm heading out to NZ for 4 weeks at the start of November. Slightly too late to catch the end of the ski season and 24 hours too late to watch the Rugby World Cup Final in Japan on tv.

I blame the missus on both counts Mad
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Check out the 3 posts on Wildsnow from 2015 on New Zealand. November still potentially in the high mountain touring season.
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Watching with great interest Sarge McSarge - just under 7 weeks until Mrs MA and I arrive in Queenstown as part of 12 days on the South Island Very Happy.

Staying Q'town for 4 nights then Wanaka for 3 nights - for 6 or 7 days' skiing. Can't wait - currently looking at ski hire options, lift passes and maybe some heli or cat skiing too.
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Tell us more Whitegold! ie (before I get over excited) confirm that the photo is of NZ right now! wink
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We have had a few days of full on snow making and now snowing on the mountains this morning and it looks like snow off and on for the next 24hrs and then a bit more in a couple of days. The forecast is saying about 20cm total so not a major fall but with the made snow we will be getting close to opening a few lifts.
@mountainaddict, There should be plenty of snow by the time you make it down here.
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After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@mountainaddict, I flew up to Auckland yesterday and it is looking like that.

Usually does between May and October.

Getting to it is not easy though.
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Quote:
Getting to it is not easy though
How do you mean
hang11 Puzzled

Puzzled of UK.
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He means that a lot of the touring terrain is rather inaccessible.

Apparently The Remarkables is opening tomorrow but I believe it will be limited lifts and terrain.
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Great re The Remarkables Very Happy.

Not too long until our trip (only 6 weeks until we arrive in Queenstown) - so just need to work out where we'll ski and suss out lift passes.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@mountainaddict, if you are hiring a car have a look at juicy rentals - they do a deal that includes free passes for treble cone. Passes for there are usually really expensive (to the point of being not worth it) but the juicy deal brings them within reach of normal people that don’t own private jets. I think the cost of the hire car can be less than the cost of the free pass they give out
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I know this is a thread about southern lakes but have a think about a trip to Oahu - couple of hours from wanaka, great drive, great little field, Oahu lodge is a nice spot to do a night. Very different vibe to wanaka and Queenstown
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Cheers hang11....Unfortunately, we've already sorted a car rolling eyes

We are flying into Queenstown but - on our return date - could only get a flight out of Christchurch. Still, mustn't grumble as I have sorted a one way car (Q'town to Christchurch) for 12 days for £120.

Which leads on to a question...I guess we are going to need snow chains?? Puzzled

On the last day of our trip, we are looking to ski at Mt Hutt en route to Christchurch. I will have a look at Oahu too - though I haven't come across it on any internet searches of NZ ski areas....You sure it isn't actually a Hawaiian ski area? Very Happy
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@mountainaddict, That's a stunning drive. A side trip up to Mt Cook is well worth it. I do it for work quite often, have driven the road hundreds of times, and I still get blown away by the scenery.

Around Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki in the Mackenzie is stunning in the right weather - which it often is.

Hire company should give you chains, but it's quite unusual to need them on a 4wd, a bit more common if you only have a 2wd. Only really if it's just snowed do roads get closed or chain restrictions on them, and same for the ski fields. You can get a bus up the wanaka/queenstown fields easily enough.

Lindis Pass and Burkes Pass are probably the only two other areas that could have a chain restriction on that road. The metservice website will have warnings if it's looking likely.

Not worth getting too worried about overall, most people don't carry them and there's no legal requirement to have them.

You will drive right past Ohau heading up to Christchurch - between Omarama and Twizel. Roundhill is just a bit further on near Lake Tekapo. It's a small hill up the end of the lake, with a T Bar - good fun. But it also has the most brutal rope tow ever and the highest vert of any south island field on that. If you're up for it and the conditions are good it's well worth a shot. The views at Ohau and Roundhill are stunning. Proper South Island stuff, big mountains, blue lakes, nobody around.

Dobson is also on that drive, just past Burkes Pass. A fun little spot too.

There's quite a lot of similarity with Hawaiian names in NZ - polynesian Very Happy

www.metservice.com has snow reports and forecasts for all the ski fields.
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Ta for that hang11 - very informative, especially as Google searches just bring up the mega-resort areas around Queenstown and Wanaka.

Trouble is....we now have too much to do in our 12 days in NZ and our minds are totally blown... Shocked

Plan so far is:

- Stay Queenstown on arrival night as we arrive early evening from Oz.
- Couple of nights in Te Anau as we just gotta do a Milford Sound trip. Looking at a cruise and some kayaking.
- 4 nights in Queenstown.
- 3 nights in Wanaka.
- 1 night Lake Tekapu.
- 1 night Christchurch.

The skiing will be from Queenstown and Wanaka, plus Mt Hutt en route to Christchurch. Haven't ruled out heli or cat too...But we also want to fit in a trip to a vineyard/wine region, some mountain biking and some sightseeing - e.g. Arrowtown looks worth a look...

Helllllpppppp!! Confused (But not a bad dilemma to have really - and at least we're not Lord of the Rings fans - so no need to visit filming locations Laughing)
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Sounds like a great trip

I think the Milford road does require you to carry chains. Take some time to stop and enjoy that drive and check the forecast before you go - can get closed with avalanches.

The overnight cruise there is great and they do kayaks off the boat - saves a night in a hotel in te Anau too.

Would also suggest looking into the hermitage at mt cook as an alternative to overnight in tekapo. Not far off the main road, nice hotel and amazing scenery and walks around there.

(I used to work in tourism down that way Happy
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@mountainaddict, I would strongly suggest you take your own boots...in general the hire kit is pretty bad.

Decent(ish) skis can be hired if you ask for the Demo list in most places.

This is a good source of special offer prices on a lot of "experience" tourism:

www.bookme.co.nz

You can save a lot of money using it.

If you do a jet boat (which is surely a must-do) I would strongly suggest this one:
https://www.gojetswanaka.co.nz/

We did several, and this was by miles the best....and a LOT better than the famous Shotover river ones
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@mountainaddict, I've got a nephew who's on his 3rd ski season out there, and he's mentioned the following:

"There's a Cat operation based round the side of Cardrona (https://sohobasin.com) but not heard much about it tbh (good or bad). There's Heli operators in Wanaka/QT, heard good things about the guides at Harris Mountain Heli ski and its best talking to them about where to go depending on conditions, experience of the group etc."

I was out there in Nov/Dec 2017 and really loved Doubtful Sound, v peaceful, spectacular scenery, dolphins and all sorts of wildlife and you get to play on a sea-kayak as part of the overnight trip. IIRC it involves less driving than the Milford one, with a nice boat-bus combo from Manapouri before you board the cruise-ship itself.

There's a brilliant road/touring map that'll really whet your appetite that you can get foc from the London NZ tourist office via
https://www.newzealand.com/uk/utilities/request-a-map/ or @
https://www.newzealand.com/netstorage/assets/pdf/f62081_6.pdf

Have fun!
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I’ve done Milford and doubtful overnight cruises a few times. Both are amazing. The drive into Milford is stunning however. Doubtful is a boat trip over lake manapouri and a bus over wilmot pass.

Best I’ve done is a private charter on a chopper into doubtful and overnight on a barge for a fishing trip, then fly back through Fiordland. Not cheap though.

One good option I believe is a heli out of Queenstown to Milford with a snow landing, overnight on the boat and then bus back to Queenstown. Never done that but then no need to overnight in te anau.

There’s a few good heli options. Methven heliski are great. Could be a good alternative to mt Hutt. There’s also a couple of operators around mt cook - one of them does a full day tour down one of the glaciers which looks great but they don’t let snowboarders on it because of all the flat bits. And I’m a rubbish skier so never had a go at that
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Cheers all - some great info there Very Happy

Only trouble is....so much to do and so little time Confused. Still, not a bad dilemma wink
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Any more snow/ski area openings down there Sarge and hang Puzzled Very Happy

We're champing at the bit here wink
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No - usual early season. Didn’t bother heading up this weekend, still high on the p tex fumes from the aftermath of last weekend.

Looking hopeful for a cold change and more snow towards the end of this week.

Should be all good by the time you arrive Happy
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Not much happening down here. Cardrona and The Remarkables are the only areas open so far. After the earlier snow falls it had warmed up again. Coronet Peak was supposed to open on Saturday but not enough snow has delayed that. We have a little snow in the forecast and at least it is cold enough for full on snow making. It is still very much early season so no need for despair at this stage.
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Cheers again to you both Very Happy.

Another Q if I may...Is it worth buying lift tickets in advance? Are they cheaper if we do so? Or are there any US-style vouchers/discounts available locally once we arrive?

Would probably prefer to see what conditions/weather are like nearer the time, then decide where to ski. Especially as (tentative at this stage) we maybe factor in some cat or heli days...
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@mountainaddict, Nothing really available for discount lift pass from Coronet & Remarkablee but Treble Cone & Cardrona both offer multi day passes at slightly discounted rates. The Treble Cone multi day pass also includes return bus from either Wanaka town of the bottom of the ski area access road.
On the snow situation 20cm since yesterday at Remarkables and just a light dusting elsewhere.
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My spidey sense tells me we could a real decent top up at the weekend. Charts are looking like a big hit or total miss at the moment.

Www.grabone.co.nz sometimes has deals on cheap passes for smaller fields, and keep an eye on Facebook for the odd offer but unlikely for Queenstown and wanaka areas.

You won’t regret a day on the heli, the cost is forgotten much quicker than the experience. Methven heli are great (near mt Hutt) have heard good things about Harris mountain heli in wanaka too.
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You won’t regret a day on the heli, the cost is forgotten much quicker than the experience
Great quote that - I like it! Very Happy.

And thanks for the lift ticket info.
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hang11 wrote:


You won’t regret a day on the heli, the cost is forgotten much quicker than the experience.


Correct. Mrs B was stretchered off after her first run on our heli day Sad
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Sorry for the thread hijack. Any NZ Snowheads? I live in Auckland so mainly ski Whakapapa and keen to link up with someone or even share the drive. Looking at doing a South Island trip this season too. Been on a few bashes when I lived in UK so people can vouch I'm not an axe murderer.
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I’m in Canterbury. I’m not even going to spend the petrol money on the 20 minute drive up the hill until it snows some more, which looks to be at least 10 days away. Doubt anywhere further south would be any better either currently.
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https://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/new-zealand-fee-levy-visitors-british-tourists-permit-online-visa-a8982026.html?utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Facebook#Echobox=1561980804
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The warm weather continues and sad to say the snow is not that great. Treble Cone as not opened at all so far and the other areas have limited terrain open. Coronet peak has hardly been able to make snow as even the night time temperatures have been jut a little too high.
@stanton, Yes great news for NZ as we will have a little more money to spend on National Parks etc. It might even reduce the number of the super low budget free loader type tourists that we get flooding in from Europe. NZ like a lot of the world is suffering from tourist growth that is overloading the local resources and environment. Areas like Queenstown are working on a bed tax to help fund the local infrastructure upgrades required to handle the tourist numbers.
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It might even reduce the number of the super low budget free loader type tourists that we get flooding in from Europe.
That makes it sound like they are sponging from the nation - when surely they must be contributing a fair sum to the NZ economy?? Puzzled

It always surprises me when places want to reduce tourist numbers. I just find it odd. Especially when the means of doing so is to effectively introduce an entry fee to the country. It's just slightly irksome in view of the tidy wack that Mrs MA and I will be chucking NZ's way for car hire, accommodation, food, drink, ski passes, kit hire, excursions etc etc.... rolling eyes

Anyway, enough of that! Any sign of any new snow down there? About 3 weeks until our first ski day - and I'm getting (just a bit) nervous about the conditions Having said that, there is snow, there is skiing and we'll just have to make the best of what we get... wink
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I went up to Hutt yesterday, snow was ok. Bloody cold and a bit murky. Definitely getting better but not much terrain open. Been a slow start but the long range forecasts are all agreeing on some proper storms coming through in a week or so. Could be good timing for a visit.

Tourist tax is a good idea. There are a lot of very small towns with huge tourism burdens and they just can’t afford to pay for the necessary facilities. Things like toilets and bins. There’s a lot of very unique and beautiful places getting completely trashed by freedom campers and tour groups. Something needs to change.

A big issue is the number of backpackers that rock up, buy a cheap van and live out of it as cheap as possible. Where I live there have been huge issues with beach car parks turned into mini ghettos and people dumping rubbish and crapping all over the place. Freedom camping is getting harder and harder to do now. That sucks for me as a keen surfer/fisherman because I’ve always just camped responsibly all over the place, but I accept that I can’t do it any more if the problem is going to get solved. Smaller towns would need to put up rates significantly to fund the facilities to get on top of the issue and most of the time the residents of those towns can’t afford it - smaller rural communities where people don’t make any money from tourism. There’s no access fees to national parks etc to help pay either.
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@mountainaddict, Snow here is still very thin but as @hang11, says there could be some hope in the future. At least it has been a little colder here so snow making has been working hard.
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My sister is in Christchurch this year and has a Hutt season pass, will be dropping in on them a couple days this season. Both fairly flexible on leave so will try shoot down folllowing a midweek storm.

Got a nice contract lined up in Dunedin as well which will see me visiting down south on the regular next few months, what's my best option for a sneaky ski weekend on the back of a work visit? Surprisingly long drive to the likes of the Remarkables!


Last edited by Then you can post your own questions or snow reports... on Tue 9-07-19 8:39; edited 1 time in total
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@mountainaddict, I share your views, NZ needs to catch up and build the facilities to accommodate the needs and breeds of tourists of all varieties. The freedom campers are a special lot and bring their challenges but they only behave that way because we make it easy for them to. They get a disproportionate amount of press and are no more yobbish than your typical ragtag group of Kiwis in St Anton. Rather than look the tourism gift horse in the mouth, NZ should throw a saddle on it, build the toilet blocks/rubbish & recycling depots etc and not bite the hand that feeds. We're going to film Amazon's $1.5B Lord of the rings tv series so the Dutch & Deutsch Frodo fans wont be going away anytime soon.... Laughing
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@Skiwi 55, Could always hit awakino if it's open. Great winter trout fishing up that way too.

Ohau is maybe a 3 hour drive from Dunedin, worth a visit too. The drive is probably a bit easier too being up the coast and along through Kurow.
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Ohau is a great shout , not many ski resorts like it in the world !
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